Vladimir Putin has been accused by western governments of amassing a vast secret fortune through a network of oligarchs and friends. However, there is little evidence on paper that links Putin to the assets – or the friendly benefactors to each other.
One possible connection has now emerged. An investigation by the the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the news website Meduza has identified a group of 86 apparently unconnected companies or not for profit organizations that appear to hold over $4.5bn (£3.7bn) of assets where a common private email address , LLCInvest.ru, appears to be in use.
The assets which appear to be held by the organizations include a range of luxury homes, yachts and vineyards previously linked in media reports to Russia’s president. The telecoms company hosting the domain name on its servers is closely linked to Bank Rossiya, described by the US Treasury as “the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation”.
None of the individuals or entities associated with the email domain name offered a comment or provided an explanation for the link when contacted. There is no suggestion that all the users of the LLCInvest.ru are involved in managing assets that have been linked in reports to Putin. It is unclear as to the purpose of the email service or the motivation for apparent cooperation on staffing and logistic issues. A Kremlin spokesperson said: “The president of the Russian Federation is not linked or affiliated in any way with the assets and organizations you mentioned.”
Additional credits: map by Pablo Gutiérrez and Seán Clarke. Video by Monika Cvorak. Picture research by Matt Fidler.